10 Nightmare Scenarios From the Internet of Things

Things to Do in Oberursel When You're Dead
Oberursel, Germany, looks like a lovely town, the sort of town where neighbors keep a friendly eye out for each other ... or not. © Boris Roessler/dpa/Corbis

We now present for your consideration the tales of two partly mummified Germanic women: The first was discovered in her Oberursel, Germany, apartment six months after her death, still seated in front of her flickering television screen; the other, an American of German descent, was found waiting in the back seat of her Jeep more than five years post-mortem [sources: Machado; Mullen and Conlon; Reuters].

The apartment dweller's demise was detected by her piled-up mail, but the homeowner had no such giveaways. She was a frequent traveler, so her mail was on hold, and no one expected to see her for a while. Her neighbor mowed her lawn, and her every bill was auto-paid from her bank account -- until, finally, the funds ran out [sources: Machado; Mullen and Conlon; Reuters].

Once, we lived in smaller, more close-knit communities. But today, as online shopping and automatic bill pay make it ever easier to live as a shut-in, more of us fall through the cracks. The more connected our devices become, and the more agency they have to perform transactions for us, the more likely we'll stumble across other forgotten corpses tooling around town, perhaps, on a final tour before their self-driving cars run out of gas.